By John Delong
Sam Querrey’s confidence continues to soar at the Winston-Salem Open, and for good reason.
The 26-year-old Californian put together another superlative effort on Thursday night as he rallied to beat fifth-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-4 in a quarterfinal match on Center Court.
The win moved Querrey into the semifinals for the third straight year here, and inched him closer to what could be his first ATP World Tour title of the year. He’ll face another unseeded player, Jerzy Janowicz, in Friday’s semifinals.
“It feels good to be back in the semifinals,” Querrey said. “I want to throw a final in there, so hopefully I can win tomorrow. But regardless, win or lose, I want to keep going out and playing the way I’m playing right now.”
Querrey came into the WSO ranked No. 56, well off his career best of 17, after a summer of one step forward and one step back. But it’s been full speed ahead here, as he has beaten Pere Riba, Steve Johnson, second-seeded Kevin Anderson, and now Garcia-Lopez.
“I’ve got a tough one against Jerzy next, and I’ve got to go one match at a time,” Querrey said. “But I’m very happy with these first four matches. I feel like my confidence is going up a lot with every win right now. It’s great to happen here, and it’s great to happen right before the Open.”
Querrey reeled off 22 aces in the match, and was never broken.
Still, he found himself down a set after losing a first-set tiebreak, and he had to save three break points in the second game of the second set to keep from going down a set and a break.
That, Querrey said, may have been the turning point of the match.
“That was crucial,” he said. “If he wins that and goes up 2-0, it’s a different match then. He went on a run there where he was playing well and that was big for me. That was almost a game-changer.”
Querrey used the spark to break Garcia-Lopez twice later in the set. Then he got the only break of the third set in the ninth game, aided by two double faults by Garcia-Lopez. He then served out the match, much to the delight of a nice crowd that was clearly in the American’s corner.
“I thought it was a great match,” Querrey said. “I thought both of us played pretty well. Even though I lost the first set, I felt good about it, because he hit some great shots. I served well the whole time. I didn’t lose serve. If I don’t lose serve and lose, it’s a bummer, but I didn’t lose serve and came through at the end.”
Garcia-Lopez had escaped with a third-set tiebreak win over Donald Young on Wednesday in the third round, taking advantage of a Young double-fault with Young serving for the match. He bemoaned the double-faults in the ninth game of the third set that led to the decisive break.
“It’s not easy when you lose 6-4 in the third,” he said. “I’m not really happy with me because I didn’t play good in the big moments. In general I thought I played good, I had my chances also in the second set, but that’s tennis. Yesterday Donald Young had a double-fault. Today, it was my turn.”
Querrey has faced Janowicz just once previously, earlier this year in Madrid on clay. Janowicz won 6-3, 6-4.
That hardly shakes Querrey’s confidence right now, though.
“You’ve got to be ready for everything against him,” Querrey said. “He can be streaky. He can get hot. He can hit the ball as hard as anyone. He’ll flash 10 winners by you, but if you stick with him, sometimes he’ll give you some errors. He likes to hit a ton of drop shots, so you’ve got to be on your toes.
“But I’m just going to worry about what I can do. I’m not even going to think about what he can do. I only care about my serve and my forehand.”